During a 24-month period the project ProNano (Promoting Technology Transfer of Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and new Production Technologies) is funded by the European Commission. Within this project a group of ten advisor companies are together helping researchers, within the nanotechnology field, to develop their results into commercially viable services, products or processes. Dr. Uffe Bundgaard-Jørgensen is part of the ProNano project and his role is the same as it has been in at least 12 different EU-projects. He is helping the entrepreneurs, in ProNano the scientists, to develop a convincing business plan and approach investors. He was earlier a member of the Board of Directors of European Venture Capital Organization and runs today his company InvestorNet-Gate2Growth Group in Denmark. “The general problem is that very few projects have a proper business plan description, a business model or justification of the chosen business model. Another thing is that few projects live up to the growth rate, which is required for a small company to become such a big company that investors eventually can get a return from their investment. If a realistic budget does not make it possible for a financial investor to get the money back at least five or six times within five years, it doesn’t cover the risk. A corporate investor may only make the investment to get access to new technology and the investment as such need not to yield a return in that account, but then return comes in other accounts,” Bundgaard-Jørgensen said.
He highlights that having an experienced advisor/coach when searching for funding can be the difference between success and failure. He also advises the entrepreneur to first of all get a good understanding of the investors, for example, what their objectives and fields are, just like the entrepreneur would like to understand any customer. “They may be experts in nanotechnology, but they aren’t experts in financing and wouldn’t dream of writing a legal contract without a lawyer, but most entrepreneurs think that getting access to funding isn’t so difficult. However, it’s a different ball game. The biggest problem is that the entrepreneurs, especially in Europe, have very little understanding of who the investors are. Some entrepreneurs are "argument- resistant" and if we cannot convince them that this is never going to fly with the investors, then we sometimes have to drop them. In these kind of projects the investments sought are everything from 100 000 euros to 1 or 2 million euros,” Bundgaard-Jørgensen said.
Bundgaard-Jørgensen thinks that a large portion of the scientists could secure funding, but not necessarily within the ProNano project period. Some of the scientists still need to develop a convincing business plan and will be assisted by ProNano. “From then and until we have identified an interested investor and the investor has made an investment decision, it will in many cases take more than the remaining months of ProNano. This isn’t a problem for some of them because they have project funding on which they can rely. They need the money in 12 months, but not exactly now,” he said.
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